Custom Made Leather Backpack With Padded Laptop Computer Section
with drawings and photos of how this backpack was made

  This backpack is made with a padded compartment for a laptop computer, a larger file section, an open outside pocket, a zipper outside pocket, and 2 pouches with flap closures.
  This is made using a pebble grain dark brown leather and Khaki color bonded lining material. It has top carry straps, removable shoulder strap and removable backpack strap.
 
  First I made a preliminary sketch with the features that the customer wanted. It was modified several times at the customers request. Compartment #1 is for the laptop computer. Pouches on the back are for cell phone and eyeglasses. Section #2 is for files. I make the sketch this way so that the customer can fill in the dimensions that they want and so they can be changed without having to redo the drawing. One has to keep in mind that this drawing is not necessarily to scale.
Working Drawing

  On the first revision the pouches were moved to the ends and zipper compartment on back for quick access to an ID card needed for work.
Working Drawing
 
 As you can see, more features were added as the design developed. Using this final drawing I didn't need to make elaborate patterns for this bag, only one that was the outside overall size. I just made notes with the dimensions for other parts that included the seam allowances.
Modified Drawing

 The biggest design problem for me to overcome was that compartment #1 and #2 are separated on the inside but I need a flat panel on the outside to attach the end pouches to.

 See the top drawing where the center seam goes all the way around the bag. In this drawing that seam has to stop at the strap attachment. The way I got around this was to make the lining like drawing #1 and the outside sewn to it at the seam just above the strap Dee ring. There is one problem with this that I will point out in a later picture.

  Sometimes it's hard to know where to start. What I do is break a big job down into smaller components so that it becomes manageable. I'm going to make the outside front and back first.
  The side I'm working on first is the front that has a zipper pocket  1" wide at the top that tapers down to nothing at the bottom. I use the one pattern I made to cut out a couple pieces of lining for the front and back. I then use the top part of the same pattern to cut out a top leather facing. Next I cut some black leather for the top handle straps, fold it and top stitch it. I sewed it on through the top facing and lining so that when using the top handles I would be lifting on the lining. If I was using a cheap cloth lining like that used on imports this wouldn't last long in use but my lining material is as strong as the leather.

Backpack step #1
  Notice that I have folded under the bottom edge of the leather facing. The handle ends are just a raw edge but I am going to cover them with zipper tape so they won't show. The folded edge of the leather will get sewn to the lining when I sew on the zipper.
Backpack step #2

  Ok, I have sewn on the zipper. Notice how it is folded and the small facing on the right hand side. I will trim the outside edge of the facing later.
  Using my same pattern I now cut the leather for the bottom front. I want this piece wider to allow for the gusset so I mark one side of the pattern, slide it over 2" and mark the other side.

Backpack step #3
  This shows the top part of the bottom front from the back side. I've sewn on the other side of the zipper to match what I have on the lining. I've  folded back the extra that I added for the gussets and top stitched it part way down. I buy this nylon coil zipper on a roll and cut lengths as needed.
  Next I assemble the 2 parts by putting on the zipper slider. It's necessary to move it a few teeth one way or the other till the corners line up properly. Then the ends of the zipper are heat sealed together. I can then sew the gusset edges and bottom to the lining. We will see that assembled in a later photo.
  Now the other side...

Backpack step #4
  This starts off the same as the other side except that this time I fold over the handle ends and sew them into the seam.  I didn't do that on the zipper side because I didn't want the extra thickness in the seam. This side has an open pocket that closes with a magnetic snap. I put 1/2 of the snap on the bottom center of the facing and above that I add the 2 dee rings for the backpack straps.
  The bottom part of this side is easy. I cut it with my same one pattern, minus a couple inches at the top. The top edge gets the other half of the magnetic snap applied to a leather tab that is then sewn onto the center top. The top edge of the pocket then gets folded down to the inside and sewn.  A dee ring is put on the bottom corners to complete the backpack attachment.

Backpack step #5
  Here it is with the edges and bottom attached to the lining with seam tape. I cut two more pieces of lining and on the one for the front I sew on credit card pockets a pen holder and 2 clips for key rings. The lining for this side gets padding sewn to it to protect the laptop computer that goes in this compartment. Here it is assembled.

Backpack step #6
 Now it's time to make the dreaded middle part. This is where I hope I have it figured out. Time to use the one pattern again to cut out 2 more pieces of lining. On the top of one I insert a long zipper 1" down from the top, and running almost the entire length. Putting the two pieces back to back and sewing on the #2 compartment top zipper and leather facings I have this.
Backpack step #7
  I have notched the top center of the facings and use this to align it to the top center of the lining. I will do this when sewing on the front and back also. Next step is to sew the facings and zipper for compartment #1 to the other side.
  Backpack step #8
  Here is the center with the bottom lining attached to the center divider. There is a seam going all the way around the center as shown in drawing one at the top of the page. What you see in this view is compartment #1 for the laptop computer with the long zipper  installed in the center divider. This makes a compartment between section #1 and section #2 where padding can be added if needed. You will also see the three tunnels in which I will install padding  for the bottom and sides of the laptop after final assembly. What we need to do now is cut the leather for the outside bottom. It will be the full width of the two compartments. The outside pouches are positioned on it and sewn on the way we did it on the handbag we made from a photo. It is then attached to the bottom lining with seam tape and the top edges are folded and sewn over the bottom edges of the top zippers. Before looking at that, look at the photo above to see that I have installed black binding on the center seam between the two zippers.

Backpack step #9
  Notice that  I can't sew across the binding on the center seam because of the compartment divider. Above the pouches I have added solid brass dee rings for the shoulder strap attachment. This completes the center section and it's time to sew on the front and back. The binding on that flap looks great doesn't it. The flaps are douple thick leather so that the magnetic snap on the under side doesn't show. This pebble grain chocolate leather looks really nice.

Backpack step #10
Here's the back installed

Backpack step #11

  Here's the front installed showing the tapered zipper pocket and gussets. After binding the two seams all I have to do is make the shoulder strap and backpack straps. You would be surprised at the amount of leather goes into the straps. You have to cut them 3/4" wider than double the finished width if you make them double sided with turned in edges.
  This is where the drawing turns into reality. I wonder if customers realize how the dimensions they give me affect the shape of final product. I guessed at the final proportions when I made the sketch and it looks to me like I wasn't too far off.  When they add a feature they want to know how much it will cost, but do they realize that every time you add a feature you add weight.
   This pebble leather is thin and strong so it isn't as heavy a bag as it would be using a thicker leather and it isn't so soft that it can't do the job of keeping it's shape and carrying the heavy lap top computer. This was the right leather for this bag and it looks really nice. The straps were made using this same pebble grain leather in black. I think the black looks good with chocolate brown. The thread is almost black, it isn't really this white, it's just reflecting a lot of  light from the flash.

Backpack / Briefcase Backpack / Briefcase

  Check out the other backpacks available from LeatherGoodsConnection

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